A 'Fairy Godparent Programme' in Singapore gives children of ex-offenders a better start in life.
Poverty and exclusion mean that many children in disadvantaged families don’t always get the best start in life. But if their parents also have a criminal record, their chances of success worsen. Singapore-based aftercare agency ISCOS runs a 'Fairy Godparent Programme' (FGP) that helps children of ex-offenders acquire positive life skills. ISCOS's FGP is the latest programme to join the Trafigura Foundation portfolio. Here we explain why it fits so well with our values.
Each year in Singapore, 9,000 offenders are released from prison and return to their families. Although this marks a positive new beginning, help is required for offenders and their families in creating a new, more stable home environment. According to ISCOS, current welfare schemes are rather limited and don’t meet the full needs of these children and families: these fragile family units require support with new parenting methods and the children require stability at home to concentrate on their schooling and prevent inter-generational offending.
ISCOS is an agency under the purview of Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs, with a mission to facilitate the reintegration of ex-offenders into society by providing them with job training and job opportunities. The organization also takes a holistic view, ensuring the family unit stays strong and offering academic assistance to their children, which ISCOS believes is key to breaking the cycle of intergenerational offending. This part of ISCOS’s work is what the Fairy Godparent Programme is about. As Petrina Choo, Senior Executive, Communications & External Relations, states: "Achieving a positive outcome for the next generation of Singaporeans, and intervening early through education and character building will ensure these children become contributing members of society, and not continue the offending cycle. This kind of support is critical - studies show that there is a link between incarceration and an eight times greater chance of future offences. With the Fairy Godparent Programme, families are given various platforms of opportunities to forge stronger family units that can help to overcome any obstacles to their success in life."
“Children and youths are the future of our nation and it is imperative that we grant them a proper education and inculcate in them the right values. Coupled with strong and stable families, there is no limit to what they can achieve.”
The Trafigura Foundation is supporting the Fairy Godparent Programme for a year (through 2015). We were particularly attracted by the scheme’s three-pillared approach, which spans student development, family support and the home environment. Trafigura colleagues in the Singapore office will be able to volunteer as mentors, serving as positive role models or brother-sister figures to some of the 550 children in the programme. Children of ex-offenders who are doing well at school will be offered a Bursary Award to encourage them to continue excelling in their studies – one of the keystones to later success. Many of the children will also be assigned case-coordinators or mentors. Family workshops and activities are a fundamental part of the scheme; these fun activities and parent-child workshops really help families to bond. Finally, the FGP also ensures that conditions at home are conducive to children studying, providing simple support in the form of lamps, tables and chairs – a space to do homework, and which shows the value of study.
“Trafigura colleagues in the Singapore office will be able to volunteer as mentors, serving as positive role models to some of the 550 children of ex-offenders.”
One of the fundamental values of the Trafigura Foundation is to give people a second chance and accompany them as they continue on their path to a meaningful, dignified, productive and fulfilling life. These values are shared by the FGP, as expressed by Patrick Ng, ISCOS’ Executive Director: “Children and youths are the future of our nation and it is imperative that we grant them a proper education and inculcate in them the right values. Coupled with strong and stable families, there is no limit to what they can achieve.”
The opportunity for local Trafigura employees to connect to the FGP will enhance our involvement and once again involve the Foundation in issues that matter to the local community.